SPOTLIGHT ON ANN CORNELL
"I've Been Through The Mill With Bill"/"Always Mine"
by Ann Cornell And The Rhythm Masters
on Bandwagon 517 B/A
released in 1948
"I've Been Through The Mill With Bill"/"Always Mine"
ABOVE: Katherine Ann Cornell, a relative and pupil of Ella Fitzgerald, was a singer. She started her career in New York City singing at the Downtown Cafe Society night club in 1943 and joined the John Kirby Orchestra in March 1944 as featured vocalist. She appeared in an all-black cast movie in early 1947, singing one solo number. Ann signed with Sterling Records later in 1947 resulting in two releases in November of that year. In 1948, she had the one record, featured here, on the Bandwagon label. Ann continued with appearances until the end of 1950, after which she seems to have left the entertainment scene.
Above: PITTSBURGH COURIER, August 7, 1943:
Ann Cornell, who, they say, is a counterpart of Lena Horne, is being rated as the newest sensational discovery of Barney Josephson, who started Lena and Hazel Scott on the road to fame. Opening at Cafe Society Downtown last week, Ann is being eared and eyed by the critics, and maybe she will hit the same jack-pot that spelled New York and Hollywood fame for the two Cafe Society darlings before her.
Above: INDIANAPOLIS RECORDER, January 22, 1944: DELIGHTFUL DE-LOVELY ANN
Ann Cornell is very sweet indeed, as the above photo illustrates. She's headed for the club caverns in Washington, D.C. An engagement extraordinary, beginning January 14, will find this cute chanteuse in the spotlight.
[NOTE: This same picture was also used for the following article....]
PITTSBURGH COURIER, April 29, 1944: ANN-TICIPATIN'
Although all of petite Ann Cornell's appeal is not in her eyes, she is the master of the come hither look. Ann is one of the newest stars on the theatrical horizon and will soon open at La Ruban Bleu, dazzling New York night spot. She is related to another singer, Ella Fitzgerald, who isn't doing so badly. Maybe it runs in the family.
Above: (Left) Fort Lauderdale News dated 3/24/44 and (Right) dated 3/25/44.
Above: Pittsburgh Courier dated 12/13/47.
VIDEO (MP4) AND EXTRA AUDIO:
The above movie stills are from the 1947 feature film "Boy! What A Girl". Ann Cornell is singing "I Just Refuse To Sing The Blues". She also sang in the March 25 episode of the 1949 TV series "Adventures In Jazz".
THE DAILY NEWS (NEW YORK CITY), February 9, 1947:
Herald Pictures, a new producing organization in New York, has made a musical film with an all-Negro cast. "Boy! What A Girl!" directed by Arthur Leonard, will be released on Broadway as soon as a theatre is available. Ann Cornell and Betti Mays, two young singers who've gained fame in the night clubs of New York, have leading roles in the picture....
Listen to "I Just Refuse To Sing The Blues" - Ann Cornell - Boy! What A Girl - 1947 using Windows Media Player.
Watch the VIDEO of Ann Cornell singing "I Just Refuse To Sing The Blues" from "Boy! What A Girl" in MP4 format.
(Will open in a new window)
Above: The Cash Box dated 10/9/48.
Above: The Rhythm Masters (L-R) Cecil Murray, Leonard Thomas, Howard Scott, and James Riley.
Click HERE for an article about The Rhythm Masters by Marv Goldberg. (Will open in a separate window)
Above: Detroit Free Press dated 11/17/50.
At Left: Brooklyn Daily Eagle dated 11/4/49.
Above: (Left) The Gazette (Montreal, Canada) dated 1/24/47 and (Right) Daily News (New York City) dated 5/26/50.
ARTICLES AND BLURBS....
DAILY NEWS (NEW YORK CITY), July 21, 1943:
....Ella Fitzgerald's niece would be wiser not to use that Katherine Ann Cornell moniker in her singing career.... (NOTE: She began using just "Ann Cornell" soon after.)
PITTSBURGH COURIER, July 31, 1943:
....The newest rave about New York is Katherine Ann Cornell, Barney Josephson's latest discovery, whom they say is Ella Fitzgerald's cousin, and looks a younger Lena Horne....
PITTSBURGH COURIER, August 14, 1943:
....That Barney Josephson really knows how to present an artist. Looking at the newspaper ads announcing the return of Hazel Scott, we could easily see why Hollywood and all of America is at the feet of gals handled by the Cafe Societies' owner. Downtown talk is that his new discovery, Ann Cornell, is already being eyed by the flicker city....
THE BILLBOARD, August 21, 1943: REVIEWCAFE SOCIETY DOWNTOWN, NEW YORK
Barney Josephson, whose special gift is discovering talent and incubating them in his village night spot before presenting them to the snootier confines of his uptown cafe, has a collection of sepia perfromers in his downtown place that merits watching. Josephson has done particularly well with personalities introduced in his club; witness the development of Hazel Scott [pianist], Lena Horne, Zero Mostel [comedian], Kenneth Spencer [basso singer], the Golden Gate Quartet, and others. His attention is now focused on Ann Cornell, Pearl Primus [dancer] and Mary Lou Williams [pianist].
Miss Cornell, related by blood and by song style to Ella Fitzgerald, is an extremely pretty singer with a flair for interpretation that enhances rhythm tunes and ballads. At show caught, she put over a trio of tunes and an encore. She lacks the sure touches to be gained only by experience, but a lengthy stay in this spot should give her that polish....
PITTSBURGH COURIER, August 28, 1943: KATHERINE ANN CORNELL "GIVES OUT" AT DOWNTOWN CAFE SOCIETY
Subtitle: Ann Cornell Latest Rave Of Cafe Society
NEW YORKA new name is being tossed around with pleasing adjectives by the men of the writing clan who tour the city by night and as a result, Katherine Ann Cornell is creating quite a stir at Downtown Cafe Society.... You can see by the photo [at left] that she is both petite and pretty. Some critics have gone so far as to call her a miniature Lena Horne.
Unseasoned in the profession that has over night made her the talk of cafe life, Katherine Ann is more like an unpolished gem. She has the looks and the basic qualities of a good entertainer. Most men, seeing her once, twice or three times, voice a unanimous cry that a girl who looks like her doesn't have to know how to sing but so well. However, beauty isn't all the diminutive song stylist has to offer. Taught to sing by Ella Fitgerald, the obvious talent and personality of the student won her many admirers in the city of Brotherly Love.
Today at Cafe Society Downtown, Katherine Ann's singing is somewhere between Ella Fitzgerald, the teacher, and Billie Holiday, which is on a high plane, indeed. However, she comes through with a style and charm of her own....
(Picture at left is from the above article.)
THE BILLBOARD, March 11, 1944: ANN CORNELL IS KIRBY'S THRUSH
NEW YORKJohn Kirby has signed Ann Cornell as his new vocalist. She will debut with the ork in Norfolk on March 19, when it starts a tour of one-nighters thru the South.
THE BILLBOARD, August 10, 1946: REVIEWLOEW'S STATE, NEW YORK
....John Kirby does three numbers, of which his St. Louis Blues was the ace. Number is arranged beautifully and the boys give it plenty of zing. A clary solo in this number pulled big hands [NOTE: Kirby was a bass fiddle player in his orchestra]. Kirby also came in with a canary, Ann Cornell, a cute light-skin youngster who showed one of the best voices around. Styling is kind of Billie Holidayish, but pipes have a rich, lazy quality which makes them ideal for selling blues. Gal waves arms too much, but there is nothing the matter with her voice or appearance....
BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE, September 29, 1946:
....Romance item: Songstress Ann Cornell and Joe Turner of Lucky Millinder's crew....
THE CASH BOX, September 22, 1947: STERLING ADDS TO EXEC AND TALENT STAFF
NEW YORKSterling Records, this city, announced this past week that the firm has made several additions to the executive staff as well as additions to their talent roster.... Artists signed to record exclusively for the Sterling label include Dolores Brown, formerly with Duke Ellington, Irving Kaufman, the Diamond Jubilee Singers, Larry Seward, Bob Harter, and Ann Cornell....
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, December 19, 1947:
....Pretty Ann Cornell's torrid record of "Mad About You" looks like a national hit. She's a former local girl, who sang with the John Kirby and Lionel Hampton bands....
THE CASH BOX, October 2, 1948: BANDWAGON RECORDS APPOINT ADDITIONAL DISK DISTRIBUTORS
NEW YORKGeorge Bennett, vice president of Bandwagon Records Inc., this city, this past week disclosed the appointment of several new disk distributors to handle the firm's up-and-coming record line.... The firm also announced the release of their latest platter, "Always Mine" by Ann Cornell, coupled with "I've Been Thru The Mill With Bill." Disk has an advance sale of more than 25,000 and is said to be a smash.
THE BILLBOARD, January 29, 1949: BENNETT'S BUSY WEEK: LAUNCHES TWO LABELS....
NEW YORKGeorge J. Bennett, Bandwagon record topper, started two new labels this week.... The new labels, Arlington (which will feature folk and race material) and Menagerie (to carry kidisk novelties), will be produced and distributed by Black & White.... In a similar set-up Bandwagon will now be handled by Ballen Record Company from Philadelphia.... Bandwagon Music has sold [the publishing rights to] Always Mine, composed by Bennett and Johnny Bell and recorded for Bandwagon by Ann Cornell....
[NOTE: The Bandwagon label for "Always Mine" credits only "J. Bell" as composer.]
THE BILLBOARD, October 29, 1949: REVIEWCAFE SOCIETY, NEW YORK
Ann Cornell, first caught here some years ago, is back. But during the years she has lost that childish naivete and freshness that made her singing distinctive. She has since gained experience, not to mention a few superfluous pounds, and is now a stylist with many voice tricks, some of them intriguing. The over-all reaction, however, is an appeal now limited to the connoisseur who thrills to high stylings....
DAILY NEWS (NEW YORK CITY), November 3, 1949:
....Nellie Lutcher returns to Cafe Society tonight on a bill which includes singer Ann Cornell and the Billy Taylor Quintet....
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, October 9, 1950:
....New Club Harlem opens tonight on Haverford Avenue, featuring Charlie Parker's band, Slim Gaillard and Ann Cornell....
EXTRA AUDIO #2 (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
ABOVE LEFT: The Cash Box Review dated 10/22/49 for The Rhythm-Kings on Ivory 751 released in August 1949. In picture: (Top L-R) James Riley, Cecil Murray, (Bottom L-R) Howard Scott, Leonard Thomas. This group was also known as The Rhythm Masters and Rhythmasters. As The Rhythm Kings, they had two records on the Apollo label (1950-1951). In 1955, they changed their name to The Four Pals, recording for the Royal Roost label and resulting in a hit re-recording of their "If I Can't Have The One I Love". They were also "The Four Students" group that backed up Zilla Mays and Little Tommy Brown on Groove in 1955.
ABOVE RIGHT: Clipping from The Cash Box dated 1/28/50. In picture: Isaac Royal is far left at piano. Royal later became the pianist and arranger for The Charlie Fuqua Ink Spots on King Records.
TRADE PUBLICATION: RHYTHM KINGS TO WAX
NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 1950The Rhythm Kings, new vocal group, have waxed their initial sides for Apollo Records, it was announced this week. In time for the Christmas season, the Rhythm Kings' debut biscuit includes "Merry Christmas One and All" and "Christmas Is Coming at Last." The group is composed of leader Cecil Murray, along with Leonard Thomas, Howard Scott, James Riley and Isaac Royal (pianist and arranger). The unit, who have been featured on many national radio and teevee shows, are former Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout winners and have been appearing at the Dogwood Room here for several months.
ABOVE LEFT: U.S. Demonstration Record Z-117 label for "I Shouldn't Have Passed Your House" by The Rhythmasters [spelled incorrectly on the label] released in 1949. This is the same group as The Rhythm-Kings and Rhythm Masters. It is a different version than the Ivory Records' song, as by The Rhythm Kings.
ABOVE RIGHT: Ivory 755-A label released in December 1949. This is the second of three records that The Rhythm Kings had on the Ivory label (1949-1950). The name "Ivory" possibly refers to piano keys (known as "ivories") as the label pictures a keyboard. It's interesting to note that Al Russell, leader/pianist of the Do Ray Me Trio (with three releases on Ivory), soon after started his own label named Keyboard.
THE CASH BOX, July 16, 1949: NEW INDIE LABEL BOWS INTO DISK FIELD
NEW YORKDagmar Van Haur, formerly associated with Dial Records, announced her entry into the record business via Ivory Records this past week. The Ivory plattery, with headquarters in New York, has already set up nationwide distribution, with their first release scheduled to go out shortly. Featured on this release are the Do Ray Me Trio, famed for their smash Commodore recording of "Wrapped Up In A Dream." Sides cut by the group are "Only One Dream" and "Tell Me You Love Me." Miss Van Haur disclosed that the Do Ray Me Trio had been signed to an exclusive recording contract with the plattery....
THE CASH BOX, February 4, 1950: ....Ivory Records have reorganized, and have signed new talent. Among them are Peggy Thomas, Leslie Scott, Do Ray Me Trio, the Rhythm Kings, and Harold Conner....
The Cash Box Review (7/23/49):THE RHYTHMASTERS BENNETT 401.... Until Now/I Was The Third On A Match
Pair of great sides for ops to latch onto but pronto are these done up by the Rhythmasters. It's the top deck we're wild about. Titled "Until Now," the vocal group displays some great harmony on this side to offer ops a real money-maker. It's slow, tender stuff, rendered in top notch vocal manner throughout. The flip is a fair ballad, with lyrics weaving about the title. We go for "Until Now"we're sure you will too.
The Billboard Review (8/13/49):THE RHYTHMASTERS BENNETT 401....
I Was The Third On A Match (72) Quartet does handsomely with an attractive torcher.
Until Now (80) The falsetto lead voice sells an impressive slow note-bender compellingly. Tune is strongthe type material a name group could put over for a real click.
(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good" and 80-89 "excellent".)
1. "Until Now" - The Rhythmasters - Bennett 401 - 1949.
2. "I Was The Third On A Match" - The Rhythmasters - Bennett 401 - 1949.
3. "I Shouldn't Have Passed Your House" - The Rhythmasters - Demonstration Record - 1949.
4. "I Shouldn't Have Passed Your House" - The Rhythm Kings - Ivory 751 - 1949.
5. "Night After Night" - The Rhythm Kings - Ivory 751 - 1949.
6. "If I Can't Have The One I Love" - The Rhythm Kings - Ivory 755 - 1949.
7. "How Do You Measure Love" - The Rhythm Kings - Ivory 755 - 1949.
8. "If I Can't Have The One I Love" - The Four Pals - Royal Roost 610 - 1955.
ALL EIGHT played in sequence.
Click HERE for an article about The Rhythm Kings, Rhythm Masters, and Four Pals by Marv Goldberg. (Will open in a separate window)
EXTRA AUDIO #3 (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
THE BILLBOARD PICKS, January 17, 1948:
Skippy Williams on Saxophone
ABOVE: Label images for Sterling 3003 and 3004, both released in 1947. There is no vocal harmony backing her on either record.
AT LEFT: "Skippy" Williams (in center with saxophone), whose orchestra backs Ann Cornell on all four Sterling sides. This still shot is from the movie "Murder With Music" in which he backs vocalist Nellie Hill and also performs an instrumental number titled "Jam Session".
[NOTE: While IMDb.com dates the movie as 1941, research indicates that it is probably late 1947.]
The Billboard Review (11/29/47):ANN CORNELL STERLING 3003 and 3004....
I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good [sic] - Why Is It So? - When Your Lover Has Gone - Mad About You
While the husky voicing of Ann Cornell is scaled to the torch register, her singing is without any stylized delivery or rhythmic feel to make it any degree of song selling. Skippy Williams' small rhythm band supports, but with little spark in their syncos as in the singing. Never getting into a winning way for the wordage, Miss Cornell torched it throaty for three slow blues ballads, taking a lively beat for When Your Lover Has Gone.
The Cash BoxReview (1/31/48):ANN CORNELL STERLING 3004.... Mad About You/When Your Lover Has Gone
Here's a ditty you'll want to feature in your machines but pronto. It's thrush Ann Cornell and the heavy wordage of "Mad About You" to set off a spark of coinplay from coast to coast. Ann's vocal efforts here are bound to go a long way toward hypoing phono play and in a big way at that. The stuff is set way down low, with the lyric and the gal's pitch in there all the way. On the flip with the standard "When Your Lover Has Gone", the canary comes thru with more teeming tones that glow. Both sides of this piece for some mad play.
In the opinion of The Billboard music staff, records listed below are most likely to achieve popularity as determined by entry into best selling, most played, or most heard features of the Chart.
MAD ABOUT YOUTune, penned by Ram Ramirez and kicked around by jazzmen for a couple of years, gets slow, straight handling with big Ann Cornell vocal on the Sterling label.
1. "I've Got It Bad And That Ain't Good" - Ann Cornell - Sterling 3003 A - 1947.
2. "Why Is It So" - Ann Cornell - Sterling 3003 B - 1947.
3. "When Your Lover Has Gone" - Ann Cornell - Sterling 3004 A - 1947.
4. "Mad About You" - Ann Cornell - Sterling 3004 B - 1947.
ALL FOUR played in sequence.
5. "Jam Session" - Skippy Williams And His Orchestra - Murder With Music Movie - 1947 [Instrumental].
Above Left: Label image of Bandwagon 517 released in October 1948. Bandwagon Records, located in New York City, was owned by George J. Bennett and Al Middleton, with Bennett taking full control in November 1948. Affiliated labels were Arlington, Hudson, and Managerie. Middleton owned Sterling Records (1945-1948). Bennett had been his A&R man there. Ann Cornell recorded for both Sterling and Bandwagon. Bennett would later own the short-lived Bennett label in 1949 and the Jaguar and Hallmark banners in the mid-to-late 1950s.
NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.
Listen to this week's selections featuring Ann Cornell And The Rhythm Masters on Bandwagon from 1948 using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. I've Been Through The Mill With Bill
2. Always Mine
BOTH played in sequence
ALL FIFTEEN VOCAL SONGS ON THIS PAGE played in sequence
[To download audio files, right-click on song title link
and then click "Save link (target) as..."]
At Right: The Rhythm Kings (circa 1950)
[Isaac Royal is at bottom center]